U.S. says it won't again use vaccinations as spying cover
The White House and the CIA have pledged to never again use vaccinations as a fig leaf for spying, three years after the intelligence agency set up a bogus hepatitis campaign in Pakistan to locate Osama bin Laden.
Responding to a January 2013 letter from deans of 12 public health universities, President Obama's senior counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco, said that the CIA had stopped the practice in August and that the agency “will not seek to obtain or exploit DNA or other genetic material acquired” through vaccination programs.
The policy change applies worldwide to “U.S. and non-U.S. persons alike,” she wrote in a letter.
A spokesman for CIA Director John Brennan said that “our objective is to dispel one canard that militant groups have used as justification for cowardly attacks against vaccination providers,” The New York Times reported.
In their letter, the deans noted that the Pakistani government had expelled the charity group Save the Children for its suspected involvement in the CIA ruse and that seven United Nations' workers vaccinating children against polio were gunned down because of the phony campaign. The educators voiced concern that the CIA subterfuge jeopardized the effort to eradicate polio worldwide.
“While political and security agendas may by necessity induce collateral damage, we as a society set boundaries on these damages, and we believe this sham vaccination campaign exceeded those damages,” their appeal said, noting the “unintended negative public health impacts we are witnessing in Pakistan.”
In the hunt for bin Laden, the CIA recruited a Pakistani doctor for an effort to collect DNA from family members in the al-Qaida leader's suspected compound in Abbottabad to confirm his presence. The bid failed, but Navy SEALs eventually killed bin Laden there in May 2011.
The doctor, Shakil Afridi, was arrested days later and convicted of treason. In March, his 33-year prison sentence was reduced to 23 years, pending a retrial.
While being interrogated, Afridi reportedly said a Save the Children worker introduced him to CIA agents in Pakistan. The agency and the charity denied the claim.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Obama’s many rules often violate statute
- Stoned volunteers test drug, alcohol effect on driving
- Study: 35 percent in U.S. facing debt collectors
- U.S. coal exports undermine energy efforts, experts say
- Lawmakers say answering Census survey should be voluntary
- GAO seeks more drinking water safeguards
- Autistic twin men locked up in Maryland home
- New Jersey siblings split $20M lottery prize
- Cellphone users can soon declare freedom from wireless carriers
- Cost overruns may doom new generation of nuclear plants
- $17B remedy for VA pitched